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Beverage industry will make calories more clear for consumers

Beverage industry will make calories more clear for consumers
Photo: flickr - Michael Porter

nutrition labelAnswering First Lady Michelle Obama's call for innovative industry initiatives that contribute to her healthy families program, America's non-alcoholic beverage companies are coming together to make the calories in their products even more clear and consumer-friendly by putting the information on the front of all their packages, vending machines and fountain machines.

The voluntary commitment contributes to Mrs. Obama's efforts to help families make informed choices as part of a balanced lifestyle. The companies will coordinate with the Food and Drug Administration to implement the calorie initiative, which will go above and beyond what is required by the federal agency's food labeling regulations. The industry will start implementing the initiative across the country this year with completion in 2012.

"The beverage industry is taking the extra step of making the calories on its products more clear and useable for consumers so they can make balanced choices wherever they purchase our products," Susan Neely said. "By contributing to the First Lady's initiative, our industry is once again leading with a meaningful program to do its part in addressing social challenges. We applaud Mrs. Obama for her common-sense, balanced approach to a tough issue like childhood obesity, which will require contributions from all segments of society to fully tackle."

The beverage industry - whose leading companies include The Coca-Cola Company, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, PepsiCo, Nestle Waters North America and Sunny Delight - is also committing to continue reducing the beverage calories in the marketplace through innovation, smaller portion sizes and further marketing of their low-calorie beverages.

  This new initiative will display calories more prominently on:

  --  Product labels: Total calorie counts will be displayed on the front of
      labels for the entire container, up to and including 20-ounce
      products.  A 12-ounce serving size will be used in displaying calories
      for multi-serve beverage packages (such as 2-liter bottles).
 
--  Vending Machines:  Total calorie counts for the entire container will
      be displayed on the beverage selection buttons of vending machines
      controlled by the companies.

--  Fountain Machines: Calorie counts will be shown prominently on all
     fountain beverage machines.

The industry will coordinate with the FDA on its new calorie labeling initiative to ensure that the information on the front and back of a package is consistent. Also, industry supports the FDA evaluating serving sizes for the entire food and beverage industry as part of their current review of food labels.

The beverage industry is going to voluntarily explore other fact-based labeling on its packages, such as the feasibility of expanding the current information for percent of Daily Value, currently found in the Nutrition Facts Panel of all packaged foods and beverages, to include other nutrients and also put this information on the front of labels where relevant.

"Our companies are committed to fact-based labeling as well as seeking ways to make calories and other nutrition information more clear and accessible to consumers, particularly at the point of purchase," Neely said. "The more easy-to-use information we give consumers, the better they'll be able to choose the refreshing beverage that best meets their tastes and needs."

SOURCE: American Beverage Association

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